On the status of proofs by contradiction in the seventeenth century

Synthese 88 (1):15 - 41 (1991)
In this paper I show that proofs by contradiction were a serious problem in seventeenth century mathematics and philosophy. Their status was put into question and positive mathematical developments emerged from such reflections. I analyse how mathematics, logic, and epistemology are intertwined in the issue at hand. The mathematical part describes Cavalieri's and Guldin's mathematical programmes of providing a development of parts of geometry free of proofs by contradiction. The logical part shows how the traditional Aristotelean doctrine that perfect demonstrations are causal demonstrations influenced the reflection on proofs by contradiction. The main protagonist of this part is Wallis. Finally, I analyse some epistemological developments arising from the Cartesian tradition. In particular, I look at Arnauld's programme of providing an epistemologically motivated reformulation of Geometry free of proofs by contradiction. The conclusion explains in which sense these epistemological reflections can be compared with those informing contemporary intuitionism.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00540091
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

38 ( #87,235 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #147,227 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.